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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Time To Pay: Time To Pay requests: Independent Business Reviews

Where a business applies for Time To Pay (TTP) on a debt of £1,000,000 or more we may sometimes require the business to engage, at its own expense, a suitably qualified professional advisor from an agreed list of providers, to carry out an Independent Business Review (IBR).

What is an IBR?

An IBR is an independently conducted review of a business that will help HMRC to make better, more informed decisions on whether to accept or reject TTP when large amounts of money are owed. Each IBR will be unique to the business and HMRC will agree the areas that are to be covered with the IBR provider. As a minimum, each IBR will cover the:

  • causes of the current financial problems
  • actions being taken to correct those problems
  • viability of the business
  • affordability of the proposed TTP.

An IBR will address these areas in more depth then HMRC could alone, and also will remove any bias which could arise when a business is submitting information itself.

When may an IBR be required?

IBRs may sometimes be required when a business requests TTP on a debt of £1,000,000 or over, or in exceptional cases could be required when a business owes less than £1,000,000. In all cases a member of staff at SCS grade makes the decision as to whether HMRC require an IBR or not. If you are unsure whether an IBR is required, you can ask a Compliance Accountant (CA) to make a recommendation to inform this decision. This recommendation will be based on value, length of time required, information already to hand and otherwise available and the perceived added value expected.

Submitting cases to a Compliance Accountant for them to recommend whether an IBR is required

When you receive a TTP request for a debt of £1,000,000 or over you should have a discussion with the business to determine the reasons why they can’t pay and what their proposals are to settle the debt. You should use this information to complete a Corporate Debt Questionnaire (CDQ).

If you believe that the business can pay or that their proposals will be unacceptable, you should follow the guidance for rejecting TTP requests at DMBM803520.

If you believe that their TTP request may be acceptable but you are unsure about whether an IBR may be appropriate, you should:

  • advise the business, by phone, that we may require them to produce an IBR to support their TTP request and we will confirm whether or not this is required within five working days
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

    • label the subject of this e-mail ‘IBR review’
    • include the completed Corporate Debt Questionnaire as an attachment
    • include any further information in the body of the email.

Where the business has a Client Relationship Manager (CRM) or a Customer Coordinator (CC), contact them to ensure that they are aware or the situation.

A CA will be allocated to the case and within three working days they will send a recommendation to a staff member at SCS grade as to whether an IBR is required. The caseworker will be notified by phone and e-mail of the decision made.

Actions when an IBR is not required

When an IBR is not required, you should follow the guidance headed Debt is below £1,000,000 or the debt is £1,000,000 and over and we don’t require an Independent Business Review at DMBM802230.

Actions when an IBR is required

If an IBR is required, you must phone the business to advise them that:

  • HMRC require an IBR to provide in-depth, independently prepared information
  • the business is responsible for paying for the IBR
  • they must choose an IBR from our panel (PDF 50KB) of IBR providers to prepare the IBR
  • they are responsible for contacting a provider on the panel and arranging for them to carry out an IBR
  • they must phone us within five working days to advise which provider they are using
  • they must make any agreed payments and pay other HMRC liabilities, not subject to the TTP requests, in full and on time whilst the IBR is conducted.

If the business does not contact you within five working days to inform you of their chosen IBR provider you should contact them to find out why. You may consider rejecting TTP at this stage, if so see DMBM803520.

Business confirms which IBR provider they have chosen

When the business advises you which IBR provider they have chosen you should contact your allocated CA to inform them; the CA, SCS, IBR provider and the business will liaise with each other to agree the scope of the review, with SCS drawing up the formal engagement letter. The IBR provider will conduct their review and send their report to the CA. The IBR should be conducted within a reasonable timescale and the CA will receive updates from the IBR provider on the progress of the review.

Whilst the review is being conducted you should contact the CA for updates every ten working days. If any instalments or other HMRC liabilities go unpaid you must contact the CA immediately.

Business refuses to obtain an IBR

Where the business refuses to obtain an IBR, you should:

  • ask why they are refusing
  • record the reasons on the case notes
  • advise the business that there request may be rejected.

If the business still refuses, you should follow the guidance for rejecting TTP requests at DMBM803520. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  Grant English (RIS Campaigns)(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)

  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
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Business has recently been the subject of an IBR

In some cases a business may have recently been the subject of an IBR. For instance, a bank may have asked for an IBR to help them decide whether or not to grant further finance. If the business advises that they have recently been the subject of an IBR, you should ask:

  • when the IBR was carried out
  • who requested that the IBR be carried out
  • why the IBR was requested
  • who prepared the IBR.

You should then discuss the answers with your allocated CA who will advise you whether the report is sufficient for HMRC purposes and if so, how to request a copy.

After the IBR has been conducted

When the IBR provider has conducted their review they will send a report to the CA. The CA will review the report and, if necessary, will contact the provider to clarify any points. The CA will review the case, taking into account other relevant issues. The CA will send the caseworker a written recommendation of their opinion on whether to accept or reject the request. The CA will also send a copy of their report (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Sheamie Donnelly (DMB).

Once you have received the report and recommendation from the CA, you should send an email to:

  • your grade 6 or 7 if the debt is £750,000 or above but less than £1,500,000 (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Sheamie Donnelly (DMB)
  • Sheamie Donnelly (DMB) if the debt is £1,500,000 or above.

The email must include:

  • the customer’s name and reference number in the subject field
  • the Corporate debt questionnaire
  • a Case summary form
  • the CA’s report.

When a business has provided an IBR the decision to agree or reject must be made at the grades detailed under the heading ‘Rejecting Time to Pay after an Independent Business Review (IBR)’.

If the TTP request is rejected after an IBR has been prepared you must send details to Specialist Investigations (SI). (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) Grant English (RIS Campaigns)(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) The subject of the email should be ‘IBR TTP rejection’ and should include:

  • the reference numbers and amounts outstanding
  • the reasons for rejection.